President Trump said his administration has a framework for achieving peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but warned the U.S. is prepared to withhold aid to the Palestinians if they decline to return to the negotiating table with Israel.
"Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further," Trump said of the Palestinian Authority during a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Trump cited the Palestinians' refusal to meet last week with Vice President Mike Pence during Pence's visit to Israel. The president said his administration has formulated a peace proposal that would be "great" for the Palestinian Authority, if its leaders were willing to restart the talks they severed after he formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel late last year.
"That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said, referring to U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. "Why should we do that as a country if they're doing nothing for us?"
Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and his push to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparked widespread praise in Israel and outrage in other parts of the Arab world. The Palestinian Authority also claims Jerusalem as its capital, and disputes over holy sites in the city have served as a flashpoint in peace talks for many years.
Trump defended his Jerusalem announcement on Thursday against criticism that he had upended negotiations, arguing the move had actually paved the way for smoother talks down the road.
"The fact is ... there were never any deals that came close because Jerusalem — because you could never get past Jerusalem," he said. "By taking it off the table, that was the toughest issue."
Netanyahu thanked Trump for his recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and offered support in the president's efforts to secure significant changes in the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel has long opposed.
"If you decide to do that, then we will back you all the way," Netanyahu said of Trump's suggestion that he could soon alter or scrap the nuclear agreement with Iran.